Gaza Strip has been under siege since June 2007, when Israel declared it an “enemy entity”. A group of international activists organized a siege-breaking movement, the Free Gaza movement. Thanks to their efforts, and despite the Israeli ban on foreign correspondents and humanitarian aid workers to cover and witness operation “Cast Lead” on the ground, a group of international volunteers: self organised members of the International Solidarity Movement were present in Gaza when the bombing started on December, 27th 2009. Together with two international correspondents from Al Jazeera International (Ayman Mohyeldin and Sherine Tadros), they were the only foreigners who managed to write, film and report for several radio stations what was happening inside the besieged Palestinian strip.
Were they journalists? Were they activists? Who cares! They became witnesses. Being a journalist or being whatsoever depends on how you feel. It is an ethical responsibility that you manage to share with a wider audience what you and those who are around you are going through. It will be the result of your work that will lead you to a professional career as a journalist or not, rather than pre-assumptions and labels. Make them know. Make those who you want to: listen and be aware of what you are aware of. That is a journalist. Having a card, with “press” written on it, or getting a regular salary is not necessary to be a witness with a camera or a pen. Forget about neutrality. Forget about objectivity. They are not Palestinians. They are not Israelis. They are not impartial. They only try to be honest and report what they see and what they know. In Gaza´s case, no “official journalists” were authorized to enter Gaza (apart from those who were already inside) so they became witnesses. With a whole set of responsibilities as regarding to it.
They decided to be “embedded within the ambulances” opening an imaginary dialogue with those journalists who embed themselves within armies. Everyone is free to choose the side where they want to report from. But decisions are often not unbiased. They decided that civilians working for the rescue of the injured would give a far more honest perspective of the situation than those whose job is to shoot, to injure and to kill…
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“To shoot an elephant” work group is a collective, asambleary, autónomous and community-based project. They haven’t been funded by any government or supported by any private business. Donations are welcome!